Tech Learning Collective

Technology education for radical organizers and revolutionary communities.

Something for Everyone: File Servers and Other Network Attached Storage

Poster for Something for Everyone: File Servers and Other Network Attached Storage
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Learn how to provide file sharing services by creating your own networked file server so that your family, friends, or colleagues have a private place to save, share, and work on documents or photos together. Maintaining the humble file server is among the most fundamental Information Technology (IT) department tasks in businesses or organizations big and small because most other activities revolve around document storage and retrieval. In this workshop, you’ll be introduced to numerous free and open technologies such as Nextcloud that can replace more familiar Web-based online file storage services like Google Docs, along with many of the file sharing protocols integral to Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices used in today’s enterprises, like NFS, SMB, and WebDAV.

Attend the next workshop(s).

Detailed description

As early as 1964, computer makers like IBM, Inc. were publicizing the idea that businesses could use computers to eliminate or drastically reduce the drudgery and tedium of paperwork by converting paper documents into electronic files. Of course, even today not all businesses have what IBM promised would be a “paperless office,” but many of them have a rapidly growing number of important digital documents that need to be stored reliably, secured properly, and shared privately. This is what makes the humble file server a centerpiece of Information Technology (IT) department responsibilities.

These days, however, it’s not just businesses who must manage loads of electronic documents. As society becomes increasingly digitized, individuals, community groups, political organizers, and even hobbyists are much more reliant on electronic files today than we have ever been before. This is where familiar Web-based online file storage services like Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365, and Dropbox Paper come in, making it easy for people to save their work in “the cloud,” as long as they’re comfortable letting the company providing the storage service have a peek at their work. But like most things in the Internet age, the file storage and retrieval services that these companies offer are built on the back of Free, Libre, and Open Source Software programs and protocols available to everyone from individuals to large enterprises without paying a dime for them in either monetary cost or privacy exposure.

In this workshop, you’ll learn what it takes to build your own online file storage service for yourself, for a small group of friends, or for a much larger organization. Starting with a simple “shared folder,” you’ll get introduced to network protocols like WebDAV to see how they enable Web-based distributed authoring and versioning of files including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PDFs, and how these protocols fit into enterprise-ready file storage systems like Nextcloud. We’ll also discuss filesystem-level networked filing protocols that define a whole category of computer equipment called Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices like the (Secure) File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) that are common in Web hosting environments, and the Network File System (NFS) and Server Message Block (SMB) protocols that are common in homes and offices.

Upcoming “Something for Everyone: File Servers and Other Network Attached Storage” Events

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